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Stephen Drew: ‘It’s a good feeling to be back’ 04.10.13 at 4:56 pm ET
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After getting hit by a pitch in the head and suffering a concussion in early March during a spring training game against the Twins in Fort Myers, shortstop Stephen Drew said before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles that he can’t wait to rejoin the Red Sox as the starting shortstop. Drew spoke at length about what it was to overcome the concussion, watch the team get off to a hot start and watching Jose Iglesias perform well in his absence.

More than anything, Drew said he was happy to finally be back on the field and ready to make his true Red Sox debut.

“It’s a good feeling to be back,” he told reporters three hours before Wednesday’s scheduled first pitch. “It was kind of a long process, and kind of didn’t know when I would be back. The symptoms are gone and I’m ready to get back after it. It’s good to be here.”

Does he feel ready to play?

‘€œOh yeah, I feel ready,” he said without hesitation. “It’€™s now getting in there and getting back and playing the game that I always played. I’€™m looking forward to getting back with the guys to help this team win. That’€™s what it’€™s about.”

Most importantly, Drew said he doesn’t fear being gun shy at the plate or in the field.

‘€œNo hesitation,” Drew said. “I knew after going through that, it’€™s not frustrating. You just could do nothing. You get hit in the head, and it’€™s your brain, and it’€™s one of those things that takes time to heal. I thought I was fine during the game, and going home, I knew something wasn’€™t right. It’€™s like I said, that concussion took a little while longer than I thought it would be.

“Just now, while I was down there [on a rehab assignment], trying to see as many pitches as I can, playing catchup, just getting as many at-bats as I can, taking as many swings and ground balls to be back up here.”

Drew said he started really feeling better just before the season opener in New York.

“I would say about a week and a half ago, things started to come around,” Drew said. ‘€œI don’€™t feel no symptoms no more. That’€™s what I was saying. Two weeks ago, they were still there. Just trying to get over the spin feel, being a little lethargic, tired and stuff like that. With the drills I had to do, the vision stuff, the time held itself.”

Drew said he is very grateful for the new seven-day concussion policy instituted by Major League Baseball, which began last season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, jose iglesias, MLB, Stephen Drew
Clay Buchholz: ‘I don’t feel any different than last year’ 04.08.13 at 8:50 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz says he doesn’t feel that different than the start of 2012.

But the numbers and the eye test both tell a different story.

In his first two starts of 2012, the right-hander was 1-0 with a 9.82 ERA.

After shutting out the Orioles on three hits in seven innings, walking four and striking out eight, Buchholz earned his second win of 2013 in as many starts Monday. He is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, matching the 2-0 record of Jon Lester.

“I don’t feel any different than I did last year,” Buchholz said. “Just little things that didn’t go right [last year] and it definitely makes it easier whenever you have somebody like Jonny going out the day before you and throwing [well], it’s something for you to feed off of. It’s better than being 0-2. You have to keep everything on an even keel I think and try not to get too high and don’t get overconfident with it. Just go out and do your work and that’s what I’m going to lead with.”

With Baltimore lefty Wei-Yin Chen matching zeroes with Buchholz, the pressure was on Buchholz heading into the seventh.

Matt Wieters worked a walk to open the inning. But Buchholz zeroed in. He fanned J.J. Hardy and Steve Pearce, sandwiched around a ground out from Ryan Flaherty. His day was over after 113 pitches, 65 strikes. Some eyebrows were raised as Buchholz was allowed the chance to finish the inning, despite a pitch count approaching 100 in the seventh.

‘€œThat’€™s Clay’s ballgame,’€ skipper John Farrell said. ‘€œI felt like he earned that right to get through it. His stuff didn’€™t diminish. He showed the ability to make big pitches in key moments. It wasn’€™t like he was losing command or the fastball was becoming elevated. He stayed sharp throughout. More than anything that was his inning to finish.’€

Finish is exactly what Buchholz did in strong fashion, blowing away Hardy (looking) and Pearce (swinging) on 93 MPH fastballs.

“Always good to win,” Buchholz said. “I think after that seventh inning when I went out there, it’s sort of inning-by-inning by each [starter]. It’s tough. Each out you do get going up to that point [is important]. You just don’t want runners to get on because all it takes is one pitch like you saw. It’s a fun game to pitch in, especially whenever you come out on top in the end.

‘€œI didn’€™t really have one thing that was working the whole day. I was up in the zone. There was a couple balls hit early that would have gotten out, but stayed in the park. Other than that, it was sort of a grind there for a little bit.’€

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, MLB
John Farrell on ‘aggressive’ Jose Iglesias: ‘No one’s going to take away from what he’s done’ at 2:42 pm ET
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The joyride that has been the first six games of the season for Jose Iglesias may be coming to an end soon. But Iglesias is at least making the Red Sox think about his roster spot when Stephen Drew returns to active status from his concussion.

Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged before Monday’s home opener that when Drew returns, Iglesias will likely be replaced as the starting shortstop. Barring any more freeze outs, Drew is expected to play in one more rehab game with Double-A Portland before joining the Red Sox for Wednesday’€™s game against the Orioles.

Iglesias certainly has made the decision more difficult for Farrell and the Red Sox by starting out 9-for-17 in five games for the Red Sox.

‘€œI think we probably have to wait for that move to take place first,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œBut no one’€™s going to take away from what he’€™s done. If it turns out that that’€™s the move, then, much like any player who’€™s gotten off to a good start, it’€™ll be hard [for Iglesias] to swallow it. But there’€™s got to be an understanding of [how] personal and organizational goals align. And sometimes [they’re not the same].

‘€œWhat he’€™s done is he’€™s clearly shown that not only do we have a now-ready shortstop [but] if, it turns out that he becomes depth for us, he’€™s made very good strides, particularly at the plate.’€

[John Farrell talks about Jose Iglesias and his fast start to the season.]

Iglesias’ spectacular defense has again been on display in the first week of the season. That confidence has finally spilled over offensively, with the assistance of some well-placed infield hits. Only one of Iglesias’ nine hits have found the outfield. What has Farrell thought of his approach so far?

‘€œAggressive,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œHe’€™s made contact. He’€™s found some holes. He’€™s beat out a couple of infield hits. He’€™s taking aggressive swings, much like we talked about in spring training. He’€™s in a pretty good place, back to a natural swing that’€™s got some pull to it, but that’€™s what works best for him. He’€™s also used the bunt on occasion to keep some defenders honest with him. He’€™s picked out some good spots against left-handed starters to push bunt. And we’€™ve seen his glove work at shortstop has been outstanding.’€

The Red Sox were hoping the signing of Drew in December to a one-year, $9.5 million contract would light a fire under the 23-year-old Iglesias. So far, so good.

‘€œI think he came in with and expressed some thoughts after the singing of Stephen over the winter,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œAnd I think he was determined to show some things differently, whether how he went about his work, [or] what he did inside of given games. He [got] a break because of an unfortunate situation with Stephen and he’€™s made the most of it.’€

And for now, that’s good enough to stick.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, jose iglesias, MLB, Stephen Drew
Jonny Gomes launches moonshot, Will Middlebrooks dodges bullet in Red Sox spring loss to Orioles 02.27.13 at 10:30 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — In a spring training game that saw Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffer a scare with his right wrist, Jonny Gomes blasted a long home run to left field while several Red Sox relievers looked strong early on as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-3, Wednesday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.

Reliever Franklin Morales started the game and retired the side in order on 12 pitches, eight strikes. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring.

But the bigger story came in top of the first when the Red Sox (2-4) appeared to dodge a major bullet. With an 0-1 count, Middlebrooks took an inside fastball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks attempted to check his swing and avoid being hit. He was successful in avoiding the pitch but he immediately grabbed his right wrist and went to manager John Farrell. He was taken out of the game and replaced with Pedro Ciricaco. As he went into the dugout, he threw his helmet against the back wall in obvious frustration.

[AUDIO: Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about team apparently dodging a bullet with Will Middlebrooks.]

The team later said Middlebrooks, who broke the same wrist last August in Cleveland when hit by a pitch, was suffering from “right wrist soreness” and would be re-evaluated Thursday in Fort Myers. After the game Middlebrooks said he felt no pain and it was “just a scare” and a “freak thing that scared everybody.” He pointed to the outside of his right wrist, where he suffered the break last August and said the initial discomfort was in the same area.

Alex Speier has much more, including reaction from Middlebrooks.

The group of Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all threw a single inning of work. Only Hanrahan allowed a run, and it was unearned, as Ciriaco threw high to first on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Nava couldn’t reach up and grab it.

But the good run of pitching ended in the sixth when Junichi Tazawa was roughed up for two runs on four hits and committed a balk in the sixth. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to left by Chris Davis, erasing Boston’s 2-1 lead and putting Baltimore ahead, 3-2. Tazawa has allowed five hits and two runs over two innings in his first two appearances. Drake Britton allowed two more runs on three hits in the seventh as Baltimore built a 5-2 lead. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2013 spring training, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez
John Farrell notes Wednesday: Felix Doubront cleared for start, David Ortiz takes a personal leave at 6:35 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — Felix Doubront completed his simulated game Wednesday successfully in Fort Myers and has passed the final hurdle for starting a spring game, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. That start will come Monday afternoon at JetBlue Park against Tampa Bay.

The lefty was slowed at the start of camp due to fatigue in his left [throwing] shoulder and was held back. He began throwing a week later than the other four projected starters in the rotation. He threw live batting practice earlier this week before throwing his simulated game on Wednesday.

“He was very good. Two sim innings and he’s on tap for Monday,” Farrell said before Wednesday’s game against the Orioles.

After some confusion, another pitcher, Alfredo Aceves, will indeed pitch for Mexico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Farrell had initially informed his right-hander, who was initially on the provisional roster, that he was not selected for the regular roster and would not be playing. That apparently was not the case.

Farrell said it’s likely that Aceves will start for Mexico, which is part of the reason the Red Sox wanted to stretch him out to start camp.

David Ortiz left the team Wednesday for the Dominican Republic to take care of a personal matter.

“He’s taking a couple of personal days,” Farrell said. “He’s got a personal issue he’s taking care of right now.”

Other pregame notes included Farrell’s reaction to St. Louis manager and former catcher Mike Matheny instructing his catchers to avoid all contact at the plate when possible: “You want the aggressiveness to always remain in the game,” Farrell said. “But at the same time, when a catcher can be opened up, in some cases, for a very severe injury, you almost have to listen to the comments of Mike and Bruce Bochy, former catchers who have sustained a serious injury from it. Their comments probably resonate more than those of who have not been back there. I guess I take the view of the game from the traditional standpoint that you want good, hard play as long as it’s not a cheap shot. Where do you draw the line on a play at the plate? If it’s a hard slide that makes contact. Maybe just a mandatory slide rather than just a head-up, full-on collision, I can see the merit in preserving guys’ health. They can be scary, no doubt about. [Jorge] Posada took one from Hinske that I still don’t know how it got up from it but he did. I think the last thing anyone want is to hurt anyone in the game.
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Read More: 2013 spring training, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, bruce bochy
Red Sox take on Oriole regulars in Sarasota at 4:43 pm ET
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SARASOTA, Fla. — The Red Sox will send lefty reliever Franklin Morales to the mound Wednesday night in their first night game of the spring, as they visit Ed Smith Stadium for a date with the Baltimore Orioles.

After getting pounded, 15-4, Tuesday by St. Louis at JetBlue Park, the 2-3 Red Sox look to get back on the winning track against a lineup of primarily regulars against the Orioles.

The Red Sox lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Shane Victorino RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Jonny Gomes LF
Daniel Nava 1B
Mark Hamilton DH

Franklin Morales SP

The Orioles line up this way:

Nolan Reimold DH
Brian Roberts 2B
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Chris Davis1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Nate McClouth LF
Wilson Betemit 3B

Chris Tillman SP

For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: 2013 spring training, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, franklin morales
Daniel Bard and his fastball: ‘I feel good about where it’s headed’ 02.25.13 at 7:27 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — There has been much discussion about Daniel Bard‘s velocity – or lack thereof – on his fastball. The 98 and 99 MPH readings that were commonplace in the spring of 2009 and ’10 are not there.

But the right-hander isn’t worried.

He threw mostly fastballs to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning Monday, his only inning of work, and those fastballs ranged mostly between 92-94 MPH, with a couple topping out at 95.

“I think overall, I would say it was better,” Bard said. “I’m just still working hard to get on top of every pitch. Still have a little bit of a tendency a little rotational and I think that’s where you see some of those errant ones. For the most part, mechanics feel good. Just that one little thing, keeping my hand on top of the ball and driving down through the zone is key for me.

“It’s a small thing that takes a lot of reps to get it right. I had a some bad habits built up from last year. We’ve corrected most of them and that’s just the one thing we’re working on. I feel good. I feel like I can finally trust myself with throwing the ball where I want to and just attacking guys.”

[Daniel Bard feels more and more confident with each outing.]

Bard lost his fastball when the Red Sox moved him to the rotation and he started pitching with the mentality of conserving energy and pitches. Now back in the bullpen, Bard believes that once the mechanics are fixed, his upper-90s fastball will return.

“I think so. I think there’s probably three or four miles an hour just in having a little better finish on top of the ball, just backspinning the ball,” Bard said after Monday’s outing. “It’s close. I’m doing on certain pitches and not others. When that last bit of mechanics becomes consistent, I feel good about where it’s headed.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2013 spring training, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Bard, MLB
David Ross takes the fall for the uncomfortable Alfredo Aceves at 6:58 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — It’s odd by even spring training standards – two visits to the mound by the catcher to speak with his pitcher, including one after just three pitches into the game.

That was what happened Monday at Charlotte Sports Park as Alfredo Aceves didn’t like what his catcher David Ross was throwing down for signals. Aceves gave up two hits and two runs in the opening inning as part of a 29-pitch, 14-strike effort over two innings. He did not factor into the decision as the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 6-3.

And to Ross’ credit, being the veteran he is, he took full responsibility for Aceves not feeling comfortable in the first inning of his first spring training start.

‘€œYeah, it’€™s early. It’€™s early,” Ross said. “It’€™s one of the things that stink as a catcher when you feel like you ruin a guy’€™s rhythm sometimes when you’€™re not on the same page because I have to know what’€™s coming and know where they want me to set up and know where they want the pitches thrown and signs. It’€™s one of those things that’€™s really frustrating for me just because I know it’€™s me. When I’€™m just not on the same page, I have to get right with him. It comes with time. I’€™m new.

‘€œI say, ‘€˜what do you want?’€™ If he’€™s shaking me off three or four times, and I can’€™t get it right, I just ask him what pitch he wants to throw and make sure we’€™re on the same page as far as what sign we’€™re going with. Sometimes I go through signs, I go fastball away, fastball in, and then curveball, slider, I may have forgotten changeup or maybe he wanted fastball up. It’€™s just me being still being new and messing with everybody’€™s rhythm around here. I’€™d rather him call me out there and get it right from the get-go. Sometimes, I think I hinder those guys and make them think too much and they’€™re not as comfortable. Today was a good learning process for me and next time will be a better outing.’€

For his part, Aceves said he’s still getting familiar with Ross.

‘€œThis is the first time that we’€™ve thrown,” Aceves said. “He’€™s a good catcher. For me he’€™s a good catcher, and he’€™s going to help a lot of pitchers. He’€™s got a lot of knowledge in baseball. Got a lot of time in baseball. So he knows about calling pitches, how to go against the hitters, go after them, go after the outs.’€

Mixed signals or not, there was nothing wrong with Aceves’ arm, as he was sitting on 94 MPH when he was throwing his fastball, which was most of the time in his two-inning stint.

‘€œI didn’€™t know. I was kind of surprised. I was like, I’€™m throwing 94? I thank God I have the skills,” Aceves said. “I do the little things. As a team. I work out, I do my sprints, I do my stretches with the trainers. They’€™ve been good with us. They have our backs. They always say, you know, you’€™ve got the shoulder program, you’€™ve got mound, it helps a lot.’€

Read More: 2013 spring training, alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, David Ross
Dustin Pedroia homers, Daniel Bard throws scoreless inning as Red Sox lose to Rays at 4:06 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia connected for his first homer of spring training and Mike Carp had an RBI double in the second inning as a split-squad Red Sox club lost to the Rays, 6-3, Monday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park.

Alfredo Aceves gaves up two hits and two runs in two innings of work, walking two and striking out none. He threw 29 pitches, 14 for strikes in his first start of the Grapefruit League season. After Pedroia staked Aceves to a 1-0 lead with the homer in the top of the first, Aceves gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning on a Yunel Escobar double to left.

[Dustin Pedroia talks about his day at the plate and finding offensive rhythm in spring.]

Carp, playing in his first action of the spring since being acquired from Seattle last week, came through with an RBI double to right-center in the top of the second, scoring Ryan Sweeney and trying the game, 2-2.

[Mike Carp talks about being happy to contribute right away in spring training.]

The Rays took the lead for good with three runs off Chris Hernandez (0-1) in the fourth.

Daniel Bard threw a scoreless fifth inning, with one walk and a strikeout. He got out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the fifth when Sean Rodriguez lined into a double play. As he did against Northeastern last Thursday, Bard threw a mix of fastballs and sliders, with his slider being his most effective pitch. He struck out Hak-Ju Lee with a slider for the first out of the inning before hitting Leslie Anderson with a slider. He then walked Luke Scott before getting Rodriguez to hit into the inning-ending double-play.

Scouts recorded Bard’s fastball sitting between 92-94 MPH, topping out at 95.

The Red Sox played with a lineup of mostly regulars while a lineup of reserves beat the Jays in the other split-squad game up in Dunedin.

The Red Sox will host the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Post-game quotables:

David Ross on Aceves: “Good, good. Early on, I think a lot of these guys are working on fastball command. They’re flipping breaking stuff in there but when in doubt, we’re throwing fastballs, trying to get ahead of hitters and work down in the zone. So, you’re seeing a lot of fastball counts, that’s why you see a lot of balls getting hit hard. It’s just kind of making us throw strike one. The one thing I would say we have to work on, it’s still early but we have to get ahead, throw strike one down in the zone and we can be the aggressor.”

Ross on a mound meeting with Aceves after only three pitches: “Yeah, it’s early. It’s early. It’s one of the things that stink as a catcher when you feel like you ruin a guy’s rhythm sometimes when you’re not on the same page because I have to know what’s coming and know where they want me to set up and know where they want the pitches thrown and signs. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating for me just because I know it’s me. When I’m just not on the same page, I have to get right with him. It comes with time. I’m new.”

“I say, ‘what do you want?’ If he’s shaking me off three or four times, and I can’t get it right, I just ask him what pitch he wants to throw and make sure we’re on the same page as far as what sign we’re going with. Sometimes I go through signs, I go fastball away, fastball in, and then curveball, slider, I may have forgotten changeup or maybe he wanted fastball up. It’s just me being still being new and messing with everybody’s rhythm around here. I’d rather him call me out there and get it right from the get-go. Sometimes, I think I hinder those guys and make them think too much and they’re not as comfortable. Today was a good learning process for me and next time will be a better outing.”

Aceves on getting familiar with Ross: “This is the first time that we’ve thrown. He’s a good catcher. For me he’s a good catcher, and he’s going to help a lot of pitchers. He’s got a lot of knowledge in baseball. Got a lot of time in baseball. So he knows about calling pitches, how to go against the hitters, go after them, go after the outs.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2013 spring training, alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Bard
Red Sox regulars in Port Charlotte against Rays at 12:50 pm ET
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Torey Luvullo managed the Red Sox lineup of regulars that made the 45-minute trip north on I-75 Monday morning to take on the Tampa Bay Rays.

Monday’s lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Shane Victorino RF
Jonny Gomes LF
Stephen Drew SS
Ryan Sweeney DH
Drew Sutton 3B
Mike Carp 1B
David Ross C
Alfredo Aceves P

Lovullo said Aceves was expected to get two innings of work and 35 pitches before Daniel Bard comes on for an inning.

Other notes: Felix Doubront threw 31 pitches in a two-inning simulated game Monday at JetBlue Park.

On Bard, Chris Hernandez and Terry Doyle following Aceves: “We’ve got Bardo, Hernandez and doyle. After that, go to younger kids. Goal right now is to get everybody their work in, get everyone up to their pitch counts, then make adjustments as needed. Pretty much the plan.”

MLB executive Tony LaRussa was in town to talk to Joe Maddon on Monday morning about MLB rule changes this year, most prominently the change that makes the fake throw to third and then first a balk this year. Maddon wasn’t a big fan and said teams will adjust. Lovullo agreed.

“I think it gives the baserunners a little bit more of an advantage to steal bases,” said Lovullo, who is serving as Farrell’s bench coach. “They’re very aware of the first to third move, which might slow their initial jump. We think there might be some new trending in holding runners on third base. You might see managers holding runners at third base as if they’re on first base. We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen. We’re prepared for anything, because of the change. Moving forward, we think it’s going to help us more than anything.

On Bard: “As he’s starting to move forward, I think he’s on the right track and things are moving in a really positive direction for him. He’s comfortable and confident of getting back to the form that we’re all expecting. We don’t want to make much of it, other than letting him go out there and doing his thing and showing us where he’s at.”

On Farrell: “returning” to face Blue Jays in Dunedin Monday: “Sure there’s going to be mixed emotions on both sides. John will go out there and handle it well.” Lovullo was Farrell’s first base coach for two seasons in Toronto before being hired to serve as Farrell’s bench coach in Boston.

On returning to Toronto on Friday, April 5: “I think [Red Sox third base coach] Brian Butterfield will have that place torn down, because they love him there. He’s going to get a standing ovation. Wait for that one. Remember I said it. But deservedly so. He spent a lot of time there and did some incredible things.”

On his experience in Toronto: “Personally speaking, I spent two really good years there. I have nothing but fond memories of the front office to the people inside the clubhouse, they’re my friends and I miss them. I’ll be anxious to get up there and say hello to them. However the fans perceive that and what I may encounter up there, it’s up to them.”

On what Yunel Escobar, whom he knew in Toronto the last two seasons, will mean to Rays at shortstop: “As far as tools and overall raw stregnth, he’s top of the list. He makes every play look easy. It’s a new fresh start for him and I know he’s probably going to take his game to the next level and become an elite shortstop, which he certainly has the capabilities of becoming. He’s a special guy with a special baseball mind.”

For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: 2013 spring training, Boston Red Sox, felix doubront, MLB
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